Xue Lee shares why she values gratitude

First National Financial LP Jan 30, 2024   mins
  • International Women's Day

Xue Lee, Director Manulife, Vancouver, shares her experiences with breast cancer, why she values gratitude and what #EmbraceEquity means to her.

In honour of International Women’s Day, we are profiling several inspiring women on our team. These women lead by how they live in the world, how they share their wisdom through their actions and integrity and how they show up every day. Xue Lee, Director Manulife, Vancouver, shares her experiences with breast cancer, why she values gratitude and what #EmbraceEquity means to her. 

Q: Tell us your story in your own words.

XL: In February 2019, I discovered a lump and went to my doctor. I did all the necessary tests and in May 2019, I found out I had cancer. In June, I started chemo and radiation and had a lumpectomy. I continued to work and went into the office every third week when I felt strongest. I am healthy now, living optimistically and waiting for my five-year anniversary to say I am officially cancer free. 

Q: Why does the word gratitude resonate with you to exemplify how you live in the world?

XL: I am grateful for a lot of things – discovering the lump when I did, living in Canada and having access to advanced healthcare, all the doctors that cared for me, how positively my body responded to treatment and the incredible support I had from my co-workers when I was going through treatment. My husband, family and friends surrounded me with so much love. Going through this experience, I had a lot of different emotions. I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t ask, “why me?” But I tried to change my lens. Eight out of 10 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. So many of them are so strong and beat it. I want to be one of those strong women and be a role model for others. 

Q: From your life experiences, what wisdom do you want to share with other women?

XL: I look at life differently now. I don’t sweat the small stuff. Life really is short. It’s so important to focus on what makes you happy. And if something isn’t making you happy, fix it or get rid of it. Even though I am through the hardest part of treatment, I still have challenges. It’s ok not to be 100% every day. There are days when you’ll feel weak or depressed or like a failure. That’s where resilience comes in. And there is no shame at all in seeking professional help. Going to therapy to deal with tough situations or for regular upkeep and maintenance is ok. There isn’t anything wrong with you. You’re investing in yourself and working on self-improvement. 

Q: As a woman, what is it like to work at First National and what inspires you?

XL: At First National, being a woman has never been a roadblock. I feel fortunate to work in such a supportive environment, surrounded by exemplary, strong, independent, and successful women. There are so many great role models, mentors, and leaders with great achievements like Marion, Jenna and Kristina. As a leader myself, I stress transparency and honesty. I am a big advocate of learning, coaching and teaching. Our team focuses on personal improvement, sharing knowledge and education.  

Q: #EmbraceEquity is the theme for International Women’s Day 2023. What does that mean to you?

XL: There has been such a movement for women advocating for each other, which I find very inspiring. I have never experienced gender as roadblock in our industry or at First National. I am honest and realistic about my abilities and worth. If I didn’t get a job, raise or promotion, it’s because there was someone who was more qualified or ready. It’s never been about gender. As a leader, I believe in fair competition. It’s a simple moral principle of treating people the way you want to be treated, including kindness, fairness and equity. I want to create a safe and supportive culture where everyone has equal opportunity to succeed. 


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